As entrepreneurs, we have the luxury of setting our schedules, choosing which projects we want to take, and taking time off when we feel the need. The solo gig is pretty excellent.
I often find that my personal life and business life tends to mix—in a George Constanza “worlds colliding” kind of way. (Dang, that’s two Seinfeld references of late, perhaps a trend?)
When you’re self-employed, I find that it’s nearly impossible to separate the two—I’m pretty sure that you would agree. As difficult (and mildly) annoying as this might be at times, it also provides the opportunity to consolidate our intentionality.
I am a firm believer that the key to building an authentik business is building an authentic life.
With that said, it’s not a yin-yang situation. For me, it’s more like a yin-yin situation, or a yang-yang situation. I wear my heart on my sleeve—at home, on social media, and quite frankly, every place I can.
Years ago, I learned just how damaging dishonesty can be, and how a lack of communication can derail a relationship and a marriage. It was the darkest time of my life, without a doubt, but helped shape who I am.
For me, authenticity is not a gimmick. It’s a way of life—an ethos if you will.
And while I’m not perfect, I try to live my life and run my business in a way that models honesty. In my opinion, there is far too much to gain with that approach, and a whole lot less to lose.
Live Like You Were Dying
In 2004, American country music artist Tim McGraw—along with fellow songwriter Tim Nichols—recorded and released “Live Like You Were Dying.” It was the lead single from Tim’s eighth album of the same name.
The duo crafted the song based on family and friends who learned of illnesses (cancers), and how they often had a new perspective on life upon learning they had limited time.
They decided to write a song based on the concept, hoping that it might inspire someone in such a situation. The song’s lyrics center on experiencing life to its fullest, while also becoming a better person.
While building an honest brand or business is about building an honest brand or business—it’s also so much more than that.
I believe that so much of what we do—the things we choose to do and the way we choose to do them—in our businesses should be crafted upon the principles that we exemplify.
I took that approach as I built StudioPress into a multi-million dollar company. I treated our customers as if they were my friends. I choose to communicate with them in the same way had I known them for years.
Each customer was the most important person.
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Last weekend I spent some time in Nashville, and along the way, I listened to country music. It felt right, considering where I was going.
On my way there, I played “Live Like You Were Dying” many times. I guess the 8-hour drive provided some much-needed time for contemplation and self-reflection, so I seized the opportunity to do just that.
The song’s bridge goes like this:
“Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity,
To think about what you do with it,
What could you do with it,
What can I do with it,
What would I do with it.”
And then it ends, gracefully:
“And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I watched an eagle as it was flying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin’.”
Friends, life is short.
Life is too short for you not to be who you are—or who you were meant to be. It’s also too short for you not to run a business with integrity or a company that is not aligned with the things you believe.
I encourage you to live a life full of intention—to remove the things that stand in the way of who you are, where you want to go, and most importantly, who you want with you along the way.
I love what my friend Courtney Carver, founder of Be More with Less, says:
“If you don’t have time to do what matters, stop doing things that don’t.”
This quote should not only apply to your personal life, but it should also apply to your business. I know that, over the years, I have intentionally chosen to bring these together in harmony.
Not only does it feel good, but it aligns perfectly with the legacy I wish to leave behind—all while requiring a lot less work.
Here’s one thing I know: the art I create is far more valuable than any money I will have left in the bank when I die. That’s a promise.
I want to create. I want to be alive. But, I want to live like I was dying.
I feel, deep inside my heart, that I was meant to walk alongside creative entrepreneurs—to inspire them, to help them connect with one another, and to equip them on their journey.
Authentik is my way of answering the call—of serving you.
As artists, it is our responsibility to create honestly. It is our responsibility to seek inward and build from the heart. As a community, it is our responsibility to encourage one another and help with accountability.
I don’t think there are many communities out there which do an excellent job of this—which is why we’ve chosen to build it.
We are building a community that is about giving, and not just about taking. It is a community that is about navigating the realities and struggles of running a business just as much as it is about being successful.
Goonies Never Say Die
One of my favorite movies from back in the day is The Goonies.
There’s a scene where they, The Goonies, are underground, at the bottom of a well, talking about whether or not they should continue their journey. Mikey, played by the beloved Sean Astin, says:
“Our parents, they want the bestest stuff for us. But right now they gotta do what’s right for them, ’cause it’s their time. Their time, up there. Down here it’s our time. It’s our time down here.”
While the rest of the world—creative or otherwise—is “up there” being busy, building businesses on false hope and weak foundations, and following the advice of folks who claim to know-it-all, I say we let them.
I say we go our own way, we ebb while they flow, and we take the road less traveled. I say we follow our hearts, and we trust our instincts.
I say we embrace “our time” and experience community—the Authentik kind, and the kind I think we all long for—“down here.”
I say we keep walking and find our treasure. Because Goonies never say die.
#BetterTogether. Every. Single. Time.
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